Terry Pratchett – In a (Disc) World of His Own
Terry Pratchett is unbeatable when it comes to fantasy/alternate reality: The Discworld series now runs to more than thirty books and every one of them has something to recommend it, from clever plots to witty comparisons to our own “round” world, to the expertly drawn characters who inhabit the now-famous Disc that hurtles through space, balanced on the backs of four elephants that stand on the shell of the star turtle Great A’Tuin.
Not only is Mr Pratchett frighteningly intelligent, gut-wrenchingly funny and incredibly wry, but also incredibly versatile, turning his hand to cranking out novels at a rate of knots that appeal to readers from 8 to 80 (and beyond in both directions!). There are several Discworld novels aimed at younger readers, but they’ve proven just as popular with the grown-ups – his latest offering, Wintersmith, features young Witch-in-training, Tiffany Aching and those blue scallywags, the Nac Mac Feegle…
If you really want to get into the Discworld, pick up one of the omnibus editions – there are several to choose from including the Death series, the Witches series and the City Watch series (which just keeps on growing and getting better and better!).
There are plenty of stand-alone books in there too – try Going Postal for a giggle at the expense of the Postal Service; Moving Pictures for a crack at the film industry; or Pyramids for an escapade in a land not unlike ancient Egypt and some fun with an unwilling assassin…
And if the Discworld’s not for you, consider giving Good Omens a try – Pratchett wrote it with Neil Gaimen and it’s apocalyptically funny.
Another one outside of the Discworld is The Carpet People – originally written when Pratchett was just 17 years old and re-written when he was in his 40’s (in a sense, he collaborated with himself on this one!) to produce a fantastic bit of reading material. This was my introduction to Pratchett back in 1992 and I was instantly hooked on his work – not bad for a book about miniscule folks living between the hairs of your carpet!
Of course, Terry (or Pterry, as he is often called by fans) is also the author of the well-loved Johnny series (Johnny and the Bomb was made into a children’s TV series a while back), so there’s plenty to get your teeth into, whatever your age.
And if that’s not enough to convince you to take him off the shelf, how about this little anecdote:
A bookshop was broken into one night. The tills were, of course, already empty and the thief couldn’t open the safe. All that was missing were TWO of each of Pratchett’s books.
I rest my case!
If you’d like to try the Discworld novels but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll find a handy guide here.